FFM Bulletin 8/25/09

From GoMoorhead to NoMoorhead

From day one, the City of Moorhead's taxpayer-funded broadband network "GoMoorhead" has been a disaster. GoMoorhead was introduced in 2005 as a government-run alternative to private telecom companies, but was immediately plagued by serious technical problems and a lack of public interest. The city projected it would have 4,000 customers by 2006; as of late 2008, they had just 2,800 subscribers, not nearly enough to even break even. To subsidize the failing broadband network, the city issued double-digit electric rate hikes in 2008 and 2009, forcing all taxpayers to subsidize the few subscribers. As a recent Fargo Forum editorial says, "GoMoorhead was a mess from the get-go."

Now the city has finally decided to cut its losses and quit while it's behind, selling/leasing GoMoorhead for $1.2 million to a private telecom provider in the area. Unfortunately, Moorhead residents can't even take much solace in the unloading of this albatross. That's because, as the Fargo Forum editorial explains, the city's Public Service Commission conducted the deal behind closed doors. The editorial indicates that Moorhead's charter "says the public utility's assets cannot be sold without approval of a majority of voters in a general or special election. So, what did the commission do to get around the requirement? It cobbled together a lease scheme that apparently skirts the mandate for a vote because the transfer of public assets isn't a direct sale. Nice, huh?"

It may not be nice, but it's sadly predictable. From the Duluth School Board's passage of a $400 million "long-range facilities plan" without a public vote to the Hennepin County board's controversial funding of the new Twins stadium without a referendum, this kind of manipulative, closed-door "voter evasion" is all too common among some local governments in Minnesota.

Regardless of the propriety of the GoMoohead "sale," one thing is clear. Government has no business putting taxpayers at risk in order to provide a service that is already offered by the private sector.

Consumer-driven health care reform

The August 20 St. Paul Pioneer Press featured an opinion piece by Dr. Regina Herzlinger on consumer-driven health care reform. Dr. Herzlinger is a Harvard Business School professor and author of Who Killed Health Care? She is one of the nation's leading voices for free-market health care reform.

Dr. Herzlinger makes the case for "consumer-driven health care reform," which would encourage greater competition among insurance providers, give individuals a much wider array of health insurance options than they currently have, and significantly reduce the overall cost of health care. It would also move the country away from the inefficient and burdensome employer-provided health care model.

Dr. Herzlinger spoke at a Freedom Foundation of Minnesota health care reform event last month. Nearly 200 people were on hand for her remarks on the state of the country's health care system and the reform options currently being considered by Congress. Dr. Herzlinger issued a powerful refutation of the so-called "public option" approach that President Obama and House Democrats have endorsed.

Grading colleges and universities on what they actually teach

A recently launched website by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) does what so many higher education guides and score cards fail to do: it examines what students are actually required to learn at colleges and universities across the country. The website WhatWillTheyLearn.com evaluates major college and university core requirements in seven subjects: English composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and science.

Some of the findings are shocking. When it comes to core curriculum, ACTA finds that you don't get what you pay for: average tuition at the five schools that earn an "A" is $5,400; at the 25 that earn an "F" tuition averages $33,000. This trend holds true locally, with the University of Minnesota earning a "B" while Carleton College, where tuition and fees exceed $38,000 per year, earns a "D" for having curriculum requirements in only two of seven key areas.

Find out more at WhatWillTheyLearn.com

Minnesota Energy Citizens' Rally

Climate change legislation being considered in Washington DC means economic pain for Minnesota. How? Higher energy bills for Minnesota families, businesses, and farms.

The Minnesota Energy Citizens' Rally is for Minnesotans from all walks of life whose daily lives depend on affordable energy.

Bring your family, friends and colleagues and be a part of this important event. Enjoy hot dogs and hamburgers while learning more about how climate change legislation being debated in Washington affects you and the people of Minnesota.

When: Monday, August 31st
11am - 1pm
Where: South St Paul Hotel & Conference Center
701 South Concord Street
South St. Paul

Rally Sponsors:

  • MN Farm Bureau
  • River Heights Chamber of Commerce
  • Freedom Foundation of Minnesota
  • Free Market Institute
  • MN Taxpayers League
  • Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Associated General Contractors of Minnesota

Stay In the Loop

Stay Up To Date

Sign up today for our
e-update to find out what is
going on in your state and
local government.

FFM Tipline

We will do our best to uncover the wasteful spending you report.